December 18

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Heedful Techniques to Be Safe from COVID-19 Vaccine Phishing Scam

Hopefully, we all are ready for the Covid-19 Vaccine Phishing Scam! 

Are you aware of cyber scammers and hackers’ overblown scams during the initial phases of the COVID-19 pandemic? Do you know they are exploiting the Coronavirus Vaccine Distribution environment?

This year, back in March and April, Coronavirus-themed phishing email has successfully exploited 10% of every 100,000 emails sent. These forged emails and messages tricked millions of users to click the malicious links and attachments. These attempts led to revealing victims’ credentials, passwords, and other sensitive information that was used for multiple illegal purposes.

It is more likely that bad actors will definitely take advantage of this situation again. Cybersecurity expert Mike Stamas mentioned about $79.99 Pfizer scam, where criminals exploit things that are hot in the media as a way to steal. Indeed, the vaccine-themed phishing emails have already been received by certain organizations. 

We have gathered some samples of phishing emails and templates to aware employees of this surge of phishing emails.

  • Want to find the nearest COVID Vaccine Spot! Click here to find the vaccinated area in your neighborhood.
  • Earn stipend of $1000 for Corona vaccine study and research. Click for Enrollment!
  • Want to make sure if your health insurance plans will cover the COVID-19 vaccine or not? Check your coverage here!
  • First reserved! First served! Reserve your vaccine in advance!
  • All employees – please take a survey about the COVID vaccine to help an organization plan for better its distribution.

Here are some of the advice that could help to eliminate this scam:

  • Enable network software sensors that alert these kinds of phishing emails.
  • As soon as a phishing email is detected, delete it from the user’s inbox so that its future exposure to vulnerability can be prevented.
  • Scammers used a good convincing email domain that imitates the emails like they are from U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Users simply cannot suspect it’s a hoax. If the email address of the sender ends with cdc-gov.org instead of cdc.gov, then it’s a red flag. Don’t click any link or donate any funds.
  • Phishers target a specific individual within an organization. 91% of cyberattacks start with spear-phishing to install the malware in the employee’s computer to gain access to the company’s network. Make sure to inform and send an alert to the company IT team.
  • Do not click on suspicious emails and respond to the doubt emails especially when it mentions the World Health Organization as “We strongly recommend that you read the document attached to this message.” ABC and FDA news alerted people not to download vaccine-related documents because the virus might be spread, and hackers can target for ransomware attacks.
  • Even though shots are expected to be widely available by mid-2021, for now, it’s available in short supply. Hence, people should use only trusted and legal sites for any vaccine guidance.
  • Any solicitations about the vaccine should be ignored especially emails, texts with links, and automated voice messages (vishing) - social media vaccine luring offers/promotion codes.
  • It is very strongly recommended not to buy any kind of corona vaccine on the internet or online pharmacy platform. It may be a spoofed domain.
  • There are many cases of medical identity theft. Hence, do not give your personal sensitive information to any health care company through phone or text messages. Verify the health insurance company and then only proceed.

Now that we are aware of the methods of coronavirus vaccine phishing, let’s try to stay on top of all the scammer's techniques. For further updates about coronavirus scams visit some of the sites listed:

https://www.who.int/about/communications/cyber-security

https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/beware-fraudulent-coronavirus-tests-vaccines-and-treatments

https://www.facebook.com/wirralcouncil/photos/a.217857648259595/3953455748033081/

https://www.computerweekly.com/news/252493523/Surge-in-Covid-19-vaccine-phishing-scams-reported

https://abc7chicago.com/covid-vaccine-scam-computer-phishing/8797301/

https://www.techrepublic.com/article/phishing-emails-tempting-people-with-fake-coronavirus-vaccines/

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About the author

Priya Thapa

A dedicated and driven security professional, an expert in Cybersecurity as well as an experienced Software Developer. Inspired by Allan Turing, who is considered to be the father of Theoretical Computer Science, I am very fascinated by cryptography and deciphering secret codes. That's my main inspiration to choose my career path in cybersecurity. Besides this, I have an interest in exploring and learning about the universe, traveling, sketching, solving puzzles, games, and cooking as well.


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